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211: A new help line

CHAMPAIGN -- Hopefully no one will get stranded, but if it does happen there's a new number to call to get some help.
CHAMPAIGN -- Hopefully no one will get stranded, but if it does happen there's a new number to call to get some help. If you are in an accident or have a heart attack, call 911. But if you find yourself stranded with no money and no place to go, call 211 and they will find you a warming shelter.

It's a help line offering free information and referrals. The call service can also be used for finding a place to live, if the power goes out or if you're new in town. It can also be a way to learn about the community.

The help line provides a way to find information quickly. Illinois and Arkansas are the two most recent states to set up the service.

So far, about 20% of the state has 211, but that number will be growing soon. The call center is based in Bloomington-Normal.

If you call 911 and the dispatcher feels your call is not an emergency, you will be transferred to 211. The hotline has been up and running for about a month. Most of the calls have been from people who are homeless or need help paying their rent.
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